Thursday, January 31, 2013

DANGEROUS ADVENTURES

Private Eye #8 [March 1952] featured “dangerous adventures from the
private case-book of Rocky Jorden.  The Thrilling Detective website
describes him thus:

Supposedly modeled after television's Rocky King, Inside Detective,
redheaded Rocky was your typical tough-talking, two-fisted gumshoe
of the time. He came complete with an extremely loyal secretary,
Lisa Brown, whom he rescued from her "coked-up drummer" boyfriend
in #2's "Drums of Death." What made him Rocky such an interesting
guy was some of the talent used to bring him into the world,
including acclaimed artists such as Pete Morisi and George Tuska.


What little I know about this particular issue of Private Eye comes
from the Atlas Tales website, which attributes the cover (pencils)
to Vernon Henkel.  Inside the issue, there are three Rocky Jorden
stories, all of them signed by Henkel, a non-series story possibly
drawn by Fred Kida, and a text story.  At this time, the writers of
these stories have not been identified.

Here’s a fun fact...there was a radio detective named Rocky Jordan
whose adventures took place in Istanbul and Cairo.  In the first of
his two series, Jordan owned the CafĂ© Tambourine.  That was his
actual occupation, but, as was a common and popular thing in radio
detective shows, he was an amateur detective who usually got into
his cases by accident.  Thanks again to Thrilling Detective without
whom I would know nothing about either Rocky.

Keep reading this bloggy thing for more vintage comic-book covers
from my birth month of December 1951. 

******************************

The new girl in school tries to sidestep the usual settling in and
getting to know people part of going to a new school...by inventing
a deadly allergy to peanuts.  That’s the premise of Ayun Halliday
and Paul Hoppe’s peanut [Schwartz & Wade Books; $15.99].  Watching
Sadie try to maintain this fragile lie once she’s made new friends
in her new school is painful for her and the reader alike, but it
makes this graphic novel a genuine page-turner. 

Having raised and been raised by my own children and their friends,
I found Halliday’s characters believable.  The school nurse was a
little larger than life, but I think Sadie’s single mother and her
teachers were dead-on.  This book feels real.  If you want to tell
me Sadie’s plan is a stupid one, well, being a parent for a decade
or two will make it very clear that kids sometimes do the dumbest
things.  It’s how they and we learn.

I know 2013 has just begun, but I’m calling peanut for next year’s
award nominations.  It’s that good.

ISBN 978-0-375-86590-9

******************************

Going through older comics, I’ve been reading Batman Confidential.
Most of the issues are so-so at best and some are downright awful.
However, two storylines tickled me.

Batman Confidential #17-21 [July-November 2008] features “The Cat
and the Bat” by Fabian Nicieza and Kevin Maguire.  Barbara Gordon
“borrows” her father’s secret notebook to see what he knows about
Batgirl, who has just recently made her debut in Gotham.  Catwoman
steals the notebook from Barbara.  Barbara/Batgirl goes after her.
For a story involving Russian mobsters and human trafficking, it’s
a little more fun than it should be.  But, darn it, it is fun and
filled with Maguire-drawn eye candy that, as a evolved male, should
bother me and doesn’t.  Not even when Batgirl chases Catwoman into
a nudist club.  Batman shows up for the second half of the story,
but he’s actually not a dick here.  I enjoyed this serial, which DC
doesn’t seem to have collected at this time.  That’s an oversight
the company should correct.

In Batman Confidential #26-28 [April-June 2009], “The Curse of King
Tut” by Nunzio DeFilippis and Christina Weir with art by Jose Luis
Garcia-Lopez and Kevin Nowlan is another well-written, well-drawn
serial.  King Tut, who is completely different from the villain of
the old Batman TV series, is murdering people while making with the
obscure riddles.  The Riddler is suspected of having something to
do with this, even though he’s currently incarcerated.  It doesn’t
take long for Batman and the Riddler to form one of those “uneasy
partnerships” that can be quite entertaining when done by terrific
writers and artists...like the folks who did this one.

The story is tight for three issues without either being crowded or
padded.  The Riddler is in top form.  Batman is working comfortably
with the police.  The new villain is cool and the serial ends on a
satisfying note that made me want to see more.  Another little gem
that hasn’t been reprinted.

If I may digress and, really, how are you going to stop me, I think
the Riddler makes a much better hero than villain.  He’s probably
already a mass murderer or something in the New 52 universe, but,
if he hasn’t gone that route yet, DC should really consider using
him as a slightly shady good guy.  Not that it’s likely to happen,
but I could see myself writing a Riddler series.  Mostly because I
have friends smart enough to help me with the mysteries such a book
would require.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

2 comments:

  1. The King Tut one at least has been reprinted, because I have it in trade as BATMAN: KING TUT'S TOMB. It also includes material from Brave & The Bold v1 #164 & #171 & Batman v1 #353. I knew that spreadsheet would come in handy one day!

    Cheers
    Darryn

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  2. Here's my take on a ``reformed'' Riddler. He's always been motivated by egotism, and especially the challenge of besting Batman at intellectual endeavors. He only committed crimes to get Batman to play the game with him. Now he decides that the way to really compete with Batman is to beat him at his own game: solving crimes. His goal is always to solve the case before Batman can, or to prove that Batman is after the wrong suspect. He's still an egotistical rogue, he just happens to incidentally be doing good.

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